Lord's Day Evening Meditations March 16, 2003

Nehemiah 2:17-3:1

"Let Us Rise Up And Build."

After surveying the ruins, Nehemiah called the people together and said to them, "Come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach." When he told them how, with the Lord's help, he had obtained permission from the king, their reply was, "Let us rise up and build." Actually, what we see here is a remarkable revival. The faith, and prayers, and zeal of one man achieved a wonderful response in the people, so that in the very next chapter we find them hard at work.

"Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." Do we have some wall-building, some wall-repairing to do? Among other things, the wall, with the gates and bars, was the city's protection from the enemy. Last week we identified our enemies, so now we will see what our protection is from those enemies. The first one is the flesh. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Gal. 5:16. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Rom. 8:13. So we see that the power we have to resist the movements of our evil nature is to walk in the power of the Spirit of God Who dwells in us. If we do not grieve Him, He will be free to strengthen us against the flesh and keep it in its place. How is it with us? Are we walking in such a way that the Holy Spirit is ungrieved in us, and giving us power over the flesh? Or do we have some wall-building to do?

The second enemy is the world. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." When our faith is bright and strong, we are able to look above this world to where our Lord Jesus is. There we see His glory, His beauty, His love to us, and all the perfections of His Person, etc. This view of Him eclipses all the attractions of the world so that they lose their power over us.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

An electric light might seem very bright at night, but when you put it beside the sun you can't even tell if it is on or off. This is the true nature of Christianity. It is not a list of do's or dont's, but rather heart occupation with a Person. It is faith which gives us this view and enjoyment of His Person. A believer walking with the Lord can do anything he likes; but, what does he like? Those things that are pleasing to the One he loves. That is what is called "the law of liberty."

You may have experienced this sometime: you had really enjoyed something of the Lord or of His Word, either privately with Him, or at a meeting or a conference. Then afterward you saw some unsaved people amusing themselves with some of the world's pleasures and you wondered how they could find pleasure in such trivial things! That's it. You had tasted something so much better than what Satan gives to his slaves to amuse them. This is how faith overcomes the world. But if our faith becomes weak, then the world overcomes us! How is this part of our wall; does it need repair?

The third enemy is Satan. The Lord Jesus Himself shows us what our defense is against him in the beginning of Luke 4. There Satan tried to tempt the Lord to disobey, but the Lord always answered from the Word - "It is written ," and that settled the matter. The Lord Jesus used "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God," against him, and Satan could do nothing more. Of course, the Lord Jesus was the living Word, but He has given us His written Word, and it is our defense against the devil also. However, if we are to use the Word effectively against the enemy, like the Lord did, we have to know it, and that requires that we familiarize ourselves with the Bible. Notice that the devil couldn't force the Lord to disobey, and he can't force us to disobey or sin either. All he can do is to tempt us, and then, if we do sin, it is our own evil nature that is at fault.

So here are three enemies, with the "wall" of protection that we can have against them.

1. the flesh - the Spirit

2. the world - faith

3. Satan - the Word

How are our walls? Remember, that since our example is the city of Jerusalem, the thought is more the assembly than the individual, but both hold true. Are we walking so that the Holy Spirit is ungrieved and unquenched in us and among us; so that we are characterized by spiritual power rather than fleshly activity? Is our faith so bright and strong that our glorious and all-absorbing object is Christ and Christ alone, so that the attractions of the world are meaningless to us? Are we familiar with what is "written" and obedient to it, so that we can successfully resist all the temptations of the enemy? If we can't answer "Yes" to these questions, then our wall needs repair. "Let us rise up and build!"

In verse 19 we have again Sanballat and Tobiah, along with Geshem. Horonaim was in the country of Moab, so it seems that Sanballat the Horonite was a Moabite. Moab and Amon were the illegitimate children of Lot, and as such, were distant relatives of Israel. They represent professing Christians who are not really saved, and who often are the greatest enemies of the truth. Their first effort here against the wall-builders was to laugh at them. Ridicule is a very strong weapon, and can cut deeply. However, Nehemiah put them in their place in verse 20.

There is an important difference to notice here. Back in Ezra, when Zerubbabel began to build the temple, the adversaries came along, pretended to be friends, and said, "Let us build with you." Ezra 4:2. The religious world is quite ready to take part in many "religious activities", and will, for example, take part in a gospel campaign. But in Nehemiah, the adversaries never offered to help to build the wall! The religious world cannot, and will not take part in that which faithfully makes a Scriptural distinction (the wall) between the believer and the unbeliever. When believers faithfully follow the Word, and in the power of the Spirit deny the flesh, unbelievers turn away, for that is all totally contrary to their natural tendencies.

In chapter 3 the work of rebuilding began. We are taken all the way around the city to see each builder, each task being accomplished, with the comments of the Holy Spirit on various aspects of the work. We see how the Lord noted each builder and there are some interesting comments to take note of. It was a tremendous task, undertaken by relatively few people, but the Lord notes all that was done. Is there a message for us in this? I am reminded of Mark 13:34. "For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left His house, and gave authority to His servants, and to every man his work." The Lord has returned to heaven, but He has left His people down here, and committed some responsibility to each one - "to every man his work" (that includes the ladies).

In the truth of the body of Christ, every member has a place, has a function, and is needed by every other member. None is insignificant; all are important. But the eye can't do the work of the foot, and the foot can't do the work of the ear. I can't do your work, and you can't do mine; but, if each does what is assigned to him or her, then all will go forward prosperously, like the building of the wall in chapter 3. John Newton wrote that if the Lord sent two angels, one to rule an empire, and another to sweep a street in it, they wouldn't want to change occupations. They would simply want to please their Lord. May it be so with us.

But if the Lord noted many positive things in the work of His people repairing the wall, He also noted some negative things. The first builder named is Eliashib, the high priest. He, with his brethren the priests "builded the sheep gate." They even "sanctified it," and repaired a portion of wall "even unto the tower of Meah and Hananeel." But something was seriously wrong with the work of Eliashib; his gate had no locks and bars! S.L.